reviews

  • Ad Reinhardt

    Marlborough | Midtown

    Barbara Rose and H. H. Arnason have contributed essays to a presentation of the Black Paintings by Ad Reinhardt. Painted over a long period, from the early ’50s to the time of his death in 1967, they were executed contemporaneously with both a Red and a Blue series about which no discussion has yet appeared. Since, by contrast, the Black Paintings have been so widely shown—although, perhaps, without the signal success they achieve in the present installation—I feel freer to immediately deflect attention from the paintings themselves to Miss Rose’s essay which clarifies so many of their issues

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  • Jim Dine

    Whitney Museum, Sonnabend Gallery

    Pop art soured after 1963. By the mid-’60s it became evident that the movement could no longer sustain itself, bold together out of sheer stylistic glue, so to speak, and those figures who were to occupy positions of second and third rank began to identify themselves one by one—or fall away to nothingness. The artists of the movement sought out other modes of expression—some achieving a production of equal vigor, others, not. Rauschenberg, whose contributions were and are immense, opted for intermedia “technology”— a production often of a staggering dullness. Jasper Johns confirmed what had been

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  • Keith Sonnier

    Castelli Gallery

    Recently Keith Sonnier has worked toward two ends—tightened geometry, at least insofar as individual units are concerned, and environmental theatricality. I am still not convinced that these ends are congruent although Sonnier’s prevarications are, by moments, capable and realized solutions to these antithetical propositions.

    But there is a lot of weak work. I say this gingerly, taking into account my confirmed view that Sonnier is, with very rare exception, one of the valuable and talented artists we have. The swarm of imitators and hangers-on who have pullulated in one year is proof enough of

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  • Manny Farber

    O.K. Harris Gallery

    Manny Farber has mounted one of this season’s most important one-man exhibitions in his scurvy-walled yet freshly painted white studio on Warren Street. The white scruffiness, grey painted floors and iron columns add much to the exhibition’s strong effect. One should have gathered from last year’s Whitney Annual—in which Farber showed a pinkish skin-like oval painting push-pinned directly to the wall—that Farber was up to something challenging. The maturity of his work is amazing and, although the pictures shown in Warren Street are the product of only the last three months work, they have the

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  • Melvin Edwards

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Melvin Edwards negotiates a supposed gap between geometrical minimalism and anti-form. Robert Morris has already accomplished this and in new field painting it is a commonplace—loose handling spread over a grid structure. Therefore, the criticism leveled is directed against the Whitney Museum for so obviously sponsoring the career of a young artist over those of the many artists who are responsible for having brought that style into being—Hesse, Andre, Flavin, Rosenquist, to name but a few. Edwards rejects the floor as the primary structural support (admitting too of the modish eclipse of the

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  • David Diao and Joel Shapiro

    Paula Cooper Gallery | 529 West 21st Street

    Two exhibitions of high merit opened at Paula Cooper: acrylic paintings by David Diao and shelves displaying substances by Joel Shapiro. In both of these artists the problems of acute modernity are sensible and, at times, resolved less than idiosyncratically, at least insofar as Joel Shapiro is concerned.

    David Diao, for a few years now, has been devoted to wet field painting—emphasizing tonalist experiences in highly delimited ranges of color spread out upon a large canvas. The lyricism and the cloudiness are, on an obvious level, something too conventionally assigned to an Eastern ancestry—although

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  • Edward Avedisian

    Robert Elkon Gallery

    Edward Avedisian’s new paintings are his most acutely distressed statements to date. Faced with painting himself out of a systematized color abstraction in which he dovetailed early Poons and Stella, Avedisian opted for a looser usage, focusing in on certain critical features of color field painting of about three years back—namely its immateriality and its limpidity, two conditions which contributed to color painting’s pent up sense of luminosity. However, Avedisian—like many figures in the broad front of second school field painting, Poons, Landfield, Ruda, Wofford particularly—has chosen to

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  • Peter Stroud

    Max Hutchinson Gallery

    Peter Stroud is hampered by a sensibility predicated on a sage and tempered asseveration, a sensibility which by its fine hesitation has led to a high geometrical abstraction which appears to be dissatisfying even to the artist himself, precisely because the demands of this ever-unsatisfied and self-chastening hyperesthesia can never be met. American color painting, one of the sources of Stroud’s art, indicates a means whereby the artist may overcome his vitiating tendency for delicacy and affinement. The other strain of Stroud’s painting comes from a longer tradition, English geometrical

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  • Milton Avery

    Brooklyn Museum

    The relevance of Milton Avery’s work stems not only from the fact that he contributed personally to the Abstract Expressionist generation through his long-standing friendships with Gottlieb and Rothko, but that the simplicity, dignity, and tact of a vision which made use of large areas of soft flat color, firmly but modestly organized into nearly abstract compositions, is still pertinent to much contemporary painting. These were the constant and basic materials with which Avery had worked for his entire career, spanning almost forty years (he died in 1965). The Brooklyn show was not hung

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  • “Beautiful Painting”

    The Jewish Museum

    The first pictures encountered in the “Beautiful Painting” galleries are those of Harvey Quaytman. His assembled paintings call to mind some of the more geometrical/sculptural works familiar to the Park Place idiom of a few years back (Novros, Ruda, Myers, et al.), to which they most likely refer in concept. Quaytman uses bilateral symmetry in one of the major pieces, M. Thonnet’s Tonic, playing off the curving contours of two blackened canvas panels which fan outward from the uppermost points of an axis or fulcrum formed by two right-angled brackets (of painted fiberglass, coating wood or

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  • Robert Goodnough

    Tibor De Nagy Gallery

    Robert Goodnough, in each successive exhibition, displays more reduced and spare paintings which show the slow, careful, almost painful metamorphosis of a single-minded esthetic. The present group of works are almost all limited to very close values of pale grey, white, and beige on buff-colored unprimed canvas fields. Thin, diamond-shaped slivers of a generally small, uniform size flutter like faceted clouds or like leaves blown by a sudden gust of wind in diagonal currents across the canvases. The erratic silhouettes of these clouds fuse softly with the grounds, creating delicate contrasts

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  • Eugene Atget

    MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

    Writing about photography is not like writing about painting. It isn’t that in photography the medium is more important than in painting, but that the kind of first-hand knowledge of it that only a practitioner can have is more important. The reason for this is that the state of the art is not only changing but improving, since in this case the art is partly—largely—a technology. One thing it is impossible to judge without a thorough knowledge of technique is whether a given photographer is getting the most out of his medium—not, is he exploiting all the possibilities it has to offer, since

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  • Henri Cartier-Bresson

    IBM Gallery

    The photos of Henri Cartier-Bresson, all of them taken in the last three years, were good, but their weakness is striking if they are compared with the work of the thirties that first brought him to public notice. Still more disturbing is to have to wonder how good this artist was in those days: the unfortunate obviousness of the vision on which these latest photos depend gives rise to suspicion that what is different is only the obviousness, not the devices that are employed. In these new photos the design is nearly always of the eccentric Degas type, with some prominent elements cut off at

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  • Aristide Maillol

    Perls Gallery

    The Maillol bronzes, spanning the artist’s entire career in sculpture and most of them quite small, were stunning. It is flabbergasting to find a sculptor who at that time (Maillol didn’t die until 1944) found it entirely adequate to place a self-contained volume in a neutral space—flabbergasting, and an immense relief. What was Maillol thinking about? I mean that he couldn’t have had the confidence to do these pieces if he had been working in the isolation they seem to imply because they’re so anomalous. One thing he apparently thought of from time to time was a kind of official sculpture

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  • Laszlo Moholy-Nagy

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum | New York

    There is a great deal to say about Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, who was a brilliant and fascinating figure, but not about the show consisting largely of his paintings at the Guggenheim Museum. Moholy was not an easel painter of any kind. I admit that a show that was really representative of Moholy’s work would seem odd in a museum, because Moholy’s ideas were antithetical to the classic practice (but perhaps not the classic theory) of what a museum is; but this is probably true of the greater part of what is shown in museums today, and should not have prevented it from being done.

    Anyway, certainly the

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  • Greg Card

    Artist's Studio

    Greg Card could be one of the better younger artists. During the last part of 1969, he completed a series of paintings called Perigee, consisting of five 5 by six foot single panels, and a diptych of two more. All are basically polyester resin, with the colorant and fiberglass reinforcing added somewhere in the seven layers; Card’s pictures, unlike Davis’s, are topographically irregular, and undulate, in parts, a few inches off the wall. In one representative panel, the image is a demirandom configuration of oranges and purples in oily linear patterns, spiked with a few solids. Its look—notwithstanding

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